Last I recall, a Senator of the United States, even one who got her seat as a gift from Daddy, swears the following oath:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
And that support and defense includes supporting and defending the amendments to said Constitution, including the 1st Amendment, which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So, when a sitting senator, through her underlings, uses the threat of a federal investigation to drive a critical radio host off the air*, is she not violating that oath six ways from Sunday, in spirit if not in letter?
Sarah Palin thinks so, and it’s made her mad:
Yesterday, Lisa Murkowski’s hired guns threatened radio host Dan Fagan, and more importantly, the station that airs Fagan’s show, with legal action for allegedly illegal “electioneering.” The station, unlike Murkowski, who is flush with millions of dollars from vested corporate interests, does not have a budget for a legal defense. So it did what any small market station would do when threatened by Beltway lawyers charging $500 to $1000 an hour – they pulled Dan Fagan off the air.
Does all this sound heavy handed? It is. It is an interference with Dan Fagan’s constitutional right to free speech. It is also a shocking indictment against Lisa Murkowski. How low will she go to hold onto power? First, she gets the Division of Elections to change its write-in process – a process that Judge Pfiffner correctly determined had been in place without change for 50 years. She is accepting financial support from federal contractors, an act that is highly questionable and now pending before the FEC. And today, she played her last card. She made it clear that if you disagree with her and encourage others to exercise their civic rights, she’ll take you off the air.
The concept of “electioneering” involves several issues, but typically refers to campaigning at the polls, which is appropriately banned. Under federal law, it can also mean paying for advertising on broadcast media during a federal election cycle, and it requires disclosures if done by groups and corporations. Fagan used satire to mock Murkowski’s write-in efforts and encouraged Alaskans to run as write-in candidates. That is not illegal. That is free speech.
With her attitude toward opponents’ free speech, I’m sure Princess Lisa would fit right in with the Obama administration.
*(Yeah, I know the guy who made the complaint is “just” a Murkowski volunteer and the campaign denies any connection. If you believe that, perhaps you’d like to buy this lovely bridge, too.)
LINKS: Ed Morrissey connects this to the debate over the possible return of the Fairness Doctrine.